Defense policy bill goes to Obama
Congress on Friday sent President Obama a massive defense policy bill that endorses his stepped-up military campaign of air strikes and training of Iraqis and moderate Syrian rebels in the war against Islamic State militants.
The Senate approved the bill 89-11. It authorizes funds for basic military operations, including construction of ships, aircraft, and weapons as well as a 1 percent pay raise for troops.
A coalition of defense hawks and Western Republicans overcame objections by Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.), and several other GOP senators who were furious that unrelated provisions to designate 250,000 acres of new, federally protected wilderness were added to the popular legislation dedicated to military operations. The measure would authorize the training and equipping of moderate Syrian rebels battling the extremists, and provide $5 billion to train Iraqis to counter the militants. - AP
Runaway takes cab
An 11-year-old Arkansas girl paid a cabbie $1,300 to take her to meet a boy in Florida, but authorities caught up with the runaway in Georgia, and found her safe, after her parents reported her missing. Police used cellphone records to determine the girl hailed the cab in Little Rock on Dec. 5 after talking to a 16-year-old Jacksonville boy she met two years ago, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Friday. The driver was not charged. - AP
Deal in toxic-tea case